Irish band Kodaline are set to play at den Atelier on November 18. Bassist Jay Boland talked shop with Sam Steen on RTL Today Radio.

The Dublin four-piece recently released their first live album, entitled Our Roots Run Deep, and bassist Jay Boland was good enough to take the time to catch up with RTL Today Radio’s Sam Steen to talk about everything from the new album, to missing out on touring due to the pandemic, hearing their music on Love Island and much more.

You can listen to the whole interview through the player below, on RTL Play or read it here, where Sam started the interview by asking how it was to be back on the road after such an enforced hiatus…

Kodaline's Jay Boland on RTL Today Radio

Full Interview 

Jay (J):  It's been really great just to be out doing it again, doing something that we are kind of good at after being really homemakers for a while. It feels good.

Sam (S):  Yes. Well, I mean, I guess that's sort of the whole conversation, isn't it? Because you released One Day at a Time back in 2020 and then obviously never got a chance to show that off. And I know a lot of bands are releasing best of compilations at the moment, or even live albums and I wonder if that's just a case of wanting to get back out there, play the hits and have a good time playing in front of other people again. Is there anything in that?

(J):  I think so.  The whole off period, whatever you want to refer to it as, it wasn't a very creative time for a lot of people. It wasn't really a very creative time for us anyway. It was like, we were all writing separately at home and stuff but it was quite hard to just be a band during that period. So I think for us anyway, this whole getting back on the road has just been about remembering why we love it and how much we love it. But I guess also during the lockdown we did these live streams where we played songs that we just haven't played in years and it gave us this kind of thirst to do that live and to do it out in front of people. So it wasn't really the Greatest Hit so much in our head, it was just… a different version of what we've been doing for the last couple of years. And I think change is always good. Change just keeps it fresh for everyone.

(S):  So what is this, then? Is it a midpoint or a marker or a milestone, maybe? How would you describe it?

(J):  It’s “Hey, we're still here.” It's a little bit of a milestone. We don't see it as a greatest hits. I don't think any of us do. It's just like the time so far.  I guess a marker is the best way to put it. It's not really putting a flag in the ground and saying, this is all we're doing. It's like, this is what we've done so far. And here's the ones you haven't heard in a while, really.

(S):  And any reason to do it as a live album rather than studio recordings or reissues or a reworked kind of thing?

(J):  Yeah, I don't know. We've always toyed with the idea of doing, like, an acoustic album purely like in the studio, but that's kind of how our songs start anyway. And some of them, if you listen to the record, even the most recent, like One Day At A Time, some of them are acoustic songs and there's only like a little bit of production around them. So I think for it to be a true acoustic record, it needs to be live. It needs to be like John Mayer's Live in La. Any of those great records that we loved. It just felt right to do it as a live record, especially in the Olympia in Dublin, which is just such an iconic venue. One of the first gigs I ever saw was REM live in the Olympia, and then I saw the Smashing Pumpkins there. That was their last gig ever as the full band. So it's got such a great history, and to be able to be part of that, I think we had to do it.

(S):  And it sort of reminded me of another Irish band, of one of my favorite records, actually, which is the Frames' Set List, which was the same kind of thing. You know, it was at a certain point they released this live album, a collection of some of the things that they had released before. It wasn't the end, they released stuff afterwards and it was just sort of like, this is what we're about when you come see us live and it's great.

(J):  It's just a capture of the experience for every show. For us, it's always completely different. So you never really know. Last night was wildly different to two nights ago just because there was 100 people that were on a different vibe and they kind of lifted the energy in the room. So, yeah, you never know what you're going to get with a live show. And I think recording that is just really special. We recorded both nights in the Olympia and there was just something special on that first night that just can't be replaced, can't be replicated.

(S):  So is the album all just that first night?

(J):  Yeah, completely no cuts, no anything.

(S):  So how does that work then, and sort of translate? Because I guess it's sort of like gig-ception really, isn't it? Because you're talking about how the songs and the gigs and the shows are different every single night, but then you're touring this version and this live version. So are you going out on the road and doing the version that you did that night at the concert?

(J):  Yeah this story is very much like it's the “Roots Run Deep” tour, so it's kind of as it was in the Olympia, but as I said, different every night, just a little bit. It just depends on the mood of the crowd. Like, sometimes we'll throw in some extra songs, we'll, you know, do them a little bit differently. There’s that Sam Cook song that we do. Sometimes we do it just completely acoustically with no mics or anything. Obviously we had to do mics for the recording or else no one would be able to hear it at home. But, you know, you just kind of go with it on the night. But it's very much the acoustic tour of this one. We're all sitting down.

(S):  That's really nice. And we should talk about One Day at a Time as well, because I wonder how you look back on that record now and the whole process behind it and the songs that are taken from us. You didn't get a chance to go out there and tour it properly. So I wonder, do you look at it as sort of a record that got away, or how do you where does that sit for you guys?

(J):  Yeah, it's a bit surreal because an album is never really complete until you get to tour it - for us anyway. It's like, yeah, you finish it and it goes off to mixing and then you start the promo. We were just about to start, like, the promo year, which was when you go and talk about the record and you go and play a million acoustic sessions and get the songs out. But the songs really have had a life of their own over the band, even since just through streaming, and there's, I think, three or four of them in the set at the moment, so we are getting to play them. It's not like we're going out and doing here's the new ones, we've never been that band. I mean, we've always just included our favorite songs from the new record, so there's one or two in there that have made it through. I think there are some other ones that I'd love to get a chance to play live and we'll see when we get back to the full band set up. Maybe there's more that fit in. But no, it's not the forgotten album, it's 'the quiet album that could' - it's just chugging up the hill. It's getting there slowly but surely.

(S):  That's good. It's a good way to look at it because I really feel for bands and artists and people who've put all this work into writing and recording and everything that goes into the work of just making the record itself, but then also not even that. The plans that you've laid out over the next sort of couple of months, six months, maybe even two years, if you've got a big sort of album and touring cycle coming up, and then it's just gone.

(J):  Man the ones I really feel for are all the new artists, too. That was going to be their first year coming out of that kind  May period. There are so many artists that have just been building and they put their time in because at the start, it takes 18 months of just, like, slog before everyone has even heard your songs. So I really feel for everyone who was just about to kind of make it, because now, I know a lot of them just kind of gave up. They kind of had to. There was no financial support for a long time there. So, yeah, it's kind of good to see that there is kind of new stuff coming back out again this year. It's great.

(S):  So I promise I'm trying not to have all of my interviews go down this route and be about this, but it seems to keep coming up again and again, and that's about the grueling nature of touring and what that means for bands these days. And we heard recently in a series of interviews that Santa Gold, for example, decided to scrap her tour entirely just because financially it didn't make sense for her as an artist. And I wonder if you can talk a little bit about that, because you guys, after having a two year break and being off for that amount of time, still decided to go back on the road and do what is a pretty big tour all around Europe. And I wonder what goes into that. Is it just about knowing the numbers, about knowing what fans you have in certain cities, about knowing through looking at ticket sales and deciding that afterwards, or is it a sort of leap of faith?

(J):  I think it's always been a leap of faith. You never know what the show is going to do or how a tour is going to do before you start. This time around, we're just going on less data than we usually have, you know, that's the business side of it. It still looks to us like the fans are still there, and so far they have been. So fingers crossed that continues. But you really never know when you're putting a show on sale, if it's going to sell well or if people will still care about you. Seems so far that people still care about us. So we're very lucky, and we know we are, so we'll keep doing it as long as people keep showing up.

(S):  Were there any conversations that you guys had during the two years that you were off as to whether or not you were going to continue afterwards?

(J):  I think for us anyway, it was always going to continue. It's just such a big part of our lives. We’d play music whether we're making a living off it or not. It's kind of all we know. We all have different things that we do on the side, but most of it's writing or producing or doing something in music, I was always behind the scenes before I was in front of the scenes with Kodaline. So if this all goes ship up or whatever, then we just go the other way and start making music for other people. But yeah, we had conversations, but none of it was ever about stopping. It's always just like taking a break and see when we're kind of ready to start again. And try it again. And really, this tour was us kind of seeing if we still loved it. I think we do.

(S):  Yeah. And to sort of stick with that. It does seem that bands are sticking around a lot longer these days. They don't just flame out in the way that they used to.

(J):  I think that just the whole paradigm of being in a band is different to what it was in the 90s. Like, the rock star is dead and gone, and that's fine. Being in a band is much more of just a normal job. It's never going to be a normal job, but to make it work, you have to put in the same amount work as anyone does in any career. So I think people are getting to a stage where they've put their 10 or 15 years in. Why would you stop? Why would you go start again and try to be a fitter or a plasterer? Now we're working away at our craft and the longer we do it, hopefully, the bigger it gets.

(S):  And increasingly syncing, as in, having your music feature on TV shows and adverts and in association with different kinds of things, that makes up an awful lot of how bands will make their money. That’s something that's happened a lot with your music.

(J):  Right we’ve been incredibly fortunate. That really has helped us survive as a band. On the business side, it's been, I'd say, a large portion of our business model. Obviously, ticket sales is always going to be the biggest part, but we've been really lucky that in the early years we were able to kind of supplement that with sync money and stuff that came in and not just sync money, like sync publicity, that our songs got in front of so many people that would never have heard them otherwise. So, like, through that, we sold more tickets and then the business grew and yeah, it's just been really, really fortunate.

(S):  Right. I was wondering because the songs feature not just on TV, but obviously in people's weddings all the time as well. I've been to a couple of weddings in the last little while and One Day featured quite heavily in them. And I wonder if you ever been at events yourself or sitting down watching TV, and then you hear your own music coming on in the background, hearing the strains as some emotional moment was about to happen on TV.

(J):  We had a love island recently, I think. My wife told me. I didn't see it myself.

(S):  Very nice. And have you been to a wedding that's featured your music?

(J):  I don't think I have. I think my friends did it ironically, at the last one I was at, they played 30 seconds of us but I don't think I've been to one that actually has featured it yet, but we've heard about a lot of them. Like, people tell us all the time that The One was their first dance, or they used High Hopes as the first dance, or walking down the aisle or something. It's incredible. People are making you part of their life. They're marking a time in their life with something that we've made. So, yeah, it really adds a lot to the specialness of the songs and they take on a whole new meaning.

(S):  That must be strange. You know, when you work on something and you write these songs and you do them in isolation by yourselves, as a group, and then you put them out in the world and people take them and incorporate them into things like their weddings, into their history, their lives, and it will always be a part of that, then.

(J):  Yeah, you know, it's hugely flattering. I don't think you can ever really say, oh, yeah, that's normal, that's just what people do. But you never get over the fact that people will take something you made and love it more than you could. It's amazing. We never let it brush over us.

(S):  This tour then, it's a proper big tour and we talked earlier about taking the leap of faith when going on something like this, but we're still three, four weeks away from the gig in Luxembourg...

(J):  Yes, I think we're away for six weeks. We have a couple of days at home in between, so I think we're maybe five more gigs and then we get home for about eight days, see the dogs, make sure the houses are still there and then back out on the road. We're going into Italy. We're, as you say, to Switzerland and back to Luxembourg. It's more than we've done in about three or four years, so it feels like a big one.

(S):  And how is it back on the road?

(J):  It's been amazing, honestly. The crew is our family and we haven't been able to see them, obviously, for the last two or three years, so it's just been great, everything fits like a glove, nothing changed. It's just been lovely to get back into the flow of things and eating really nice food, drinking nice drinks, it's been great.

(S):  I have to say, you're painting a picture there of life on the road that I rarely hear from artists.

(J):  We really are so lucky that everyone on the road with us is a little family. It's all our best mates. I live two doors down from our keyboard player, the lads live around the corner from each other. It's a family and we really do just enjoy the time on the road. We're very fortunate, we know that.

(S):  So what comes next, then? It's an annoying question, I normally hate asking it, but I guess in this case it kind of works. What happens now? It's touring this and then is it back in to make more new material?

(J):  A long tour leads us up kind of into Christmas. We're finished finished on about the 15 December, so, yeah, we end up with a show in Ireland that's like the album launch party that never happened, so, yeah, it's nice to be able to come home and just do something a little special just before Christmas and then everyone back with families and we'll see where January goes. It's all up in the air after that.

Our Roots Run Deep, Kodaline’s first live album is out now and of course you can see them playing at Den Atelier on November 18.

Get your tickets here at atelier.lu or you can WIN A PAIR OF TICKETS by sending your name, and your favourite Kodaline song to the Studio WhatsApp on +352 621 52 5000.

Make haste! The competition winner will be announced at noon on Friday 11 November! Good luck!